Pioneering Families of Australia



Marion Robertson


Having established William Robertson as the first to arrive, then let us look at his wife Marion (nee McGilchrist).  Research shows William & Marion had 7 children, however I have been unable to determine if all 7 survived childhood and made the voyage to Australia.


My research of the Robertson Family always refers everything back to William, but one can assume that many of the decisions made and much of the effort was undertaken by Marion.


Upon arrival in Hobart, William established himself as a Tailor & Draper whilst Marion raised her children, no small feat.  In 1837 William was persuaded by his friend John Pascoe Fawkner to visit Melbourne and view the settlement there which he considered to be far superior to Hobart.  Whilst there William purchased a block of land in Collins Street and moved the family once again.  


In 1839 he then went in search of land and settled upon a spot which he named Wooling.  An application for a Land Grant was made to the NSW government and granted.  


Marion and the children were on the move again, this time to the bush!  Wooling at that time consisted of 640 acres of virgin country at the foot of Mt Macedon, fertile land with an ample water supply.  Additional lease holdings and squatting licenses over the years extended the property to more than 5,700 acres.


The following descriptions of Wooling are recorded in McGilchrist’s book.


“In its heyday Wooling had an orchard of nine acres and a kitchen garden of 4 acres, the whole property attracting many visitors from as far off as Melbourne.”  The property must have been outstanding indeed for one visitor to the property made this comment “drove up from Gippsland with his family in a  buggy, the trip took 5 days with stops being made at several hotels and friends’ homes on the way.”


While Wooling sounds stunning it must be remembered that when Marion first arrived there, the dwelling was little more than a shack, hastily put together to house them whilst the property was established.  For those of us who remember long hot summer’s in the bush, the flies and the snakes, it is not hard to imagine what Marion must have endured.  In addition the property was directly threatened by several major bushfires, the first in 1851.  Having been born in 1793 she was already nearly 50 when she moved to Wooling.  Marion died in 1860 and is buried at Wooling.


The Friends of Gisborne Library, Genealogical Group have produced two booklets which contain letters to the "Gisborne Gazette" during the years 1912 - 1913.  Full details of these can be found in the Acknowledgements Page.


I have used many of these letters which contain both research and recollections to provide much of the following information.


The description of part of Marion's journey to Wooling, is included  here because it contains other information which will be elaborated upon.


 "In 1841 a Mr Kettle drove Mrs William Robertson and family from Melbourne to Wooling.  Gisborne, then called The Flat , was their last stopping place before reaching their destination.  The only inn at The Flat was The Travellers' Rest.  The Inn was too small to accommodate all the family and some were taken to the residence of the Police Commissioner.  The Travellers Rest, a wattle and daub building, was kept by a man named Pettit.  In 1843  Stokes became the landlord.  A third sister, Mrs Kettle, was along with the family on the occasion of that trip to Wooling and had her little boy with her, a toddler of 31/2 years of age.  Her husband was the Mr Kettle mentioned earlier and he died within a year.  His widow married George Jeffreys Stokes"


The items of interest in this paragraph are many, and will probably over time result in a few more pages to this website, but briefly they are as follows"- 


  • Gisborne is situated 35 miles from Melbourne and Wooling is approximately 6 miles from Gisborne, so for Marion and her family the trip would have taken  5 or 6 days over rough country, with litte in the way of marked roads. 


  • The Inn referred to above as the Traveller's Rest was in fact the Bush Inn, during the years 1843 to 1850 George Stokes had his license withheld several times and he used various members of the Robertson family as dummy license holders.  The following passage sums up the attitude of the day towards George Stokes.  On May 15th, 1850 the Melbourne Morning Herald reported details of the annual licensing Court of Melbourne among which was "James Robertson for the Bush Inn, Mount Macedon."   Dr O'Donnell continues:  James Robertson "who was Mrs Stokes' brother, was the third dummy utilised by Stokes to hold the license in his stead, but the services of No. 3 were not long in requisition on this occasion, for, on the 4th September of the same year, it is reported in the "Herald" that George J. Stokes applied for a transfer of the license..  Whatever his original offence in the eyes of the bench may have been, it took, apparently, over 4 years, nominal banishment to expiate it....While Stokes has established a reputation for cleverness and astuteness, the later was never for a moment banished or repressed by their Worships’s tactics, the only result of which was to force a respected man to adopt strategy, evasion and subterfuge to meet them".


  • George Stokes died 4th January 1851 aged just 29 years.  He left his wife Marion, widowed for the second time and with another 3 children, George Jeffries Jackson Walker, James Patterson and Marion Jane Helen.    George and Marion were  some of my great, great great grandparents.  (Note the name Marion above shows 3 generations - confused? so was I!) 


  • The toddler aged 31/2 mentioned above was Henry Kettle,  Marion's son to her first husband, this child is thought to have been the first white child born in what was to become Victoria.  He was supposed to have been given a grant of land  in Collins Street by the NSW Government,  in recognition of this but I have not been able to confirm it.  Stevenson McGilchrist cites a record by a J. Cromie wherein it is claimed Henry Kettle was baptised on 25th July, 1838.


Wooling itself, is deserving of its own page as is the Bush Inn.



City girl to country lady .....

Wooling Hill Garden Memorial park.  Pioneering families of Australia, Wool in Australia, Gisborne pioneers, first families in Gisbourne, First families in Australia, Robertson family history Early horse drawn plough, farming in the early days, draught horses. pioneering families of Australia. Marion